She used hidden cameras to help students cheat on exams. Now she’s wanted by Interpol
Think of the “international manhunt” and the image that probably comes to mind is of a hardened criminal like a murderer, bank robber or billion dollar fraudster – not the middle-aged boss of a high school tuition center.
But it is he who is at the center of a red notice published this week by the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between 194 countries.
Poh Yuan Nie, 57, reportedly fled Singapore after orchestrating an elaborate cheating scam during the Southeast Asian country annual GCE O Level exams, which students take during their final year of high school.
Poh did not turn herself in to police after a court sentenced her to four years in prison for masterminding the scam, in which she and three of her tutors provided students with answers using a system of body cameras, headphones and Bluetooth devices.
Private tuition centers are big businesses in the affluent city-state where the pressure on students to succeed can be overwhelming and it is not uncommon for monthly fees at established private tuition centers to cost up to at 2,000 Singapore dollars ($1,500).
According to initial court documents, Poh, 57, and his three accomplices – his niece Fiona Poh Min, ex-girlfriend Tan Jia Yan and a Chinese national named Feng Riwen – were each paid S$8,000 (S$6,100). $) by a man from China. to help six students aged 17 to 20 – also from China – pass the GCE exams in 2016 so they can enter local colleges.
THE payment would have been fully reimbursed if the students had not passed the exams.
Under Poh’s instructions, the six students wore flesh-colored headphones and taped cell phones and Bluetooth devices to their bodies so they could receive answers from Tan who posed as a private student sitting on the same papers. of testing.
Using a hidden camera phone taped to his chest, Tan live-streamed the questions to Poh and the two other tutoring center tutors, who then crafted the answers and passed them on to the students.
They were scolded when an exam proctor heard unusual noises coming from one of the students, who came across as sharp when questioned.
After a year-long trial that ended in 2020, Poh was found guilty of 27 counts of cheating and sentenced to four years in prison. His Interpol Red Notice included a photo ID and listed his charges of “incitement to cheat”.
Singapore police, who sought the opinion from Interpol, said Poh was due to start his prison term in September, but did not turn himself in. His three accomplices are currently serving their respective sentences. prison terms, according to the police.
“Poh has been convicted of a series of cheating offences, after she conspired with students to cheat during the 2016 GCE O level exams,” Singapore police said in a statement, adding that local warrants had also been issued. issued for his arrest.
“She was ordered in September 2022 to surrender to serve her jail term, but she did not.”
According to Interpol, global law enforcement units are asked to locate and arrest those subject to red notices – pending extradition, surrender or other legal action.
The case brought to light a school system ranked among the best in the world and recognized for its competitiveness.
The Singapore government has implemented a series of reforms in recent years aimed at easing the mental burden of students who may face immense pressure to achieve good grades.
GCE O Level exams can be a particularly stressful time, as they define a student’s overall high school performance and determine which local college or vocational institute they can go to. The exams, known in full as the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level, are national tests in math, science, language and humanities.
They are conducted jointly by the Cambridge Assessment International Examination and the Singapore Ministry of Education. They are not the same as the UK annual GCSE exams.
GCE exams are usually taken by students between the ages of 16 and 17 and are also open to private applicants. Each year, about 30,000 students take the exams, according to MOE estimates.